Minister Urges Demirchian to Avoid Alliance With Opposition Bloc

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Agriculture Minister Zaven Gevorgian said on Wednesday that he is strongly opposed to a possible alliance between the opposition Right and Accord bloc and the People’s Party of Armenia–with which he is closely connected.

"I am against an alliance between [People’s Party chairman Stepan] Demirchian and [Right and Accord leader Artashes] Geghamian," Gevorgian declared–in a rare public interference in political affairs. The commen’s follow a series of meetings between Geghamian and Demirchian–which led to widespread speculations about the formation of a formidable opposition bloc. The meetings reflect the People’s Party’s growing frustration with the current governing coalition of which it technically remains a member.

But Gevorgian–who owes his current job to his unofficial affiliation with the People’s Party–said the center-left party must not join opposition ran’s. Speaking at a news conference–he warned: "I don’t see anything bad in that cooperation. But if it is directed against the president of the republic or aims to destabilize the political situation–I will be categorically against it and will use my authority and links with that party to keep it from taking such a step."

The minister’s remarks are likely to carry weight with many People’s Party members–considering his close personal relationship with the party’s late founder and Stepan’s father–Karen Demirchian. In the 1980s Gevorgian headed one of the local branches of the Demirchian-led Armenian Communist Party. In another sign of differences brewing inside the party–the People’s Party’s board decided to expel one of the authors of its 1998 manifesto–Hmayak Hovannisian–for "going against the official party line." In an interview with RFE/RL on Tuesday–Hovannisian too spoke out against the rapprochement with Geghamian’s bloc. Demirchian’s party continues to be manipulated by other political groups because "it is still unable to finds its own role and place in the political stage," Hovannisian said.

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